Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Surly Brewing Company - Abrasive Ale

Recently, more breweries have begun putting their beer in cans. While it makes sense environmentally, taste-wise a lot of beer fanatics have been up in arms about the trend. The common perception is that while cans may be easier to recycle than bottles, they impart a metallic taste on whatever their contents may be and therefore aren't trustworthy containers for good beer. Manufacturers of mass produced (read: "crappy") beer have been canning their beers forever (Bud Light, Pabst Blue Ribbon, etc.) but in general, most craft breweries stay away from cans. Up to this beer, I had only tried beer from two other microbreweries that can their beer: Maui and Caldera. While I thought the beer from a can from Maui and Caldera was good, I had yet to be blown away by a beer from a can. Enter Surly Abrasive Ale.

At #33 on beeradvocate.com's Top 100 list, Surly's Abrasive Ale is by far the most highly rated canned beer in the world (at least for now). I was able to get a can with a relatively recent bottling date (3/21/11) and gave it a shot today.

Abrasive Ale pours a burnt orange color with a head of about a 1/2 inch of cream-colored foam. A bit of carbonation was visible inside the hazy body of the beer. While I may have been a bit skeptical about the beer before I smelled it, once I did, any doubts I had disappeared. I got huge notes of mango, pine, citrus hops and apricot. The aroma was huge and fresh, as if it had come to me straight from the tap.

The taste was every bit as good as the smell. There was a nice citrus hop presence and some candied grapefruit off the bat along with a slight bit of white pepper. While the hops were big, they were never allowed to become bitter as midway into the taste, big flavors of caramel malt and mango took over and carried the taste all the way through the finish. The finish was unbelievably smooth and sweet without becoming cloying at all. Needless to say, if Surly ever makes it out to California, I will be buying this beer in bulk.

Final Grade: A+

Top 100 Beers Tasted: 23

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